Book Review: Alchemy

Part of Reading Challenge 2013: First Reads

Title: Alchemy: The Tranquebar Book of erotic Stories II
Authors: Various | Edited by: Sheba Karim
Publisher: Tranquebar Press/ Westland Ltd.
ISBN: 978-93-82618-03-4
Pages: 229
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2.75 of 5
Reviewed for: Blogadda.com

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A different genre from what has ever been reviewed on The Tales Pensieve – Erotica – and all thanks to Blogadda. This is the first erotic genre book that I am reading and that too one with an all South Asian origin writer-cast. Featuring thirteen stories on the same theme, the book edited by Sheba Karim is more of a collection of some very interesting tales than just erotica based short stories. Though not all stories make for what will be conventionally called belonging to the genre, every writer is a revelation in there.

The book takes off with The Farmer’s Daughter by Rabi Thapa which takes us into the world of mind fantasies where he desires his maid, strikes a friendship with her and in a moment of desire loses her. Clay by Gudiya is more emotional than erotic; actually it is hardly the latter. One of the most emotionally enriched stories is based on the basic human need of sex but manages to touch other basic emotions as well. Sanskrit by Ranbir Sidhu is the confusing tale of an Indian couple based in foreign, who arrange to get high on their anniversary using organic stuff and the events of the night. The confusing part is the calls and conversations of the husband and his boss. Abandon by Shrimoyee Nandini is one of the most aptly named stories in the book and takes us on midnight rides where a couple go for midnight drives, stop over at abandoned, under construction buildings and have sex. It soon becomes an addiction until they start feeling that someone else travels with them too. A very different tale of fantasy and research follows in Mouth by M. Svairini. It is not a story for everyone and you may even want to skip it after a while (I did feel that feeling) but admiringly a very well written story of submissives, orgies and emotions. A Foreigner by Amitava Kumar again takes us into the world of mind fantasies. A renderation of gay relationships, needs and social behaviors follow in Semen, Saliva, Sweat, Blood by Hansda Sowendra Shekhar. The Matinee by Mohan Sikka is another well-written tale in the book about a young boy discovering sexual desires. The Marrying Kind by Mary Anne Mohanraj is the quintessential passion filled love story of a perfect boy and girl, breaking barriers to find each other. The Monk by Ananda Devi takes us into the mind and mind fights of sexual urges of a little boy who believes himself to be a monk and finally the book ends with Next year at the Taj by the writer-editor Sheba Karim. A tale of a man trying to re-work his marriage after a fling with a hooker while the wife is already miles away mentally travelling on detachment.

An anthology is generally a mixed bag and this one seems no different. Though I would definitely not call this erotica for it mostly lacks the stories that touch a base emotion, there are definitely some well written stories in there. My pick of the lot would be The Matinee for its characterization and subtleness. Nothing beats a story that connects and this one it was for me. Some well written stories – some conventional, some out of the world and some very much you or near you – and also a very well edited collection. All may not like every story in there but that anyways is the point of an anthology. Worth a read if you read the genre or wish to experiment.

Happy Reading.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Blogadda.com. Participate now to get free books!

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